Global Citizen Festival 2016

Last year I barely squeaked by and was able to see Beyoncé free. This year I managed to get my hands on free tickets early and saw Rihanna at Global Citizen Festival 2016! 

Rihanna is someone who I’ve been trying to see for what feels like FOREVER. A quick Wikipedia search clued me into the fact that I’ve been trying to see Rihanna live since her sophomore album, A Girl Like Me debuted in 2006. So basically it took me 10 years to be able to make it happen! TEN YEARS!

Waiting this long was torturous but in the end, I saw her for free. If I had gone to her Anti World Tour this year I most likely would have had to pay significantly more. All is well that ends well, right?


Global Poverty Project

If you’re unfamiliar with this festival let’s dive into some background info! The festival is run by the Global Poverty Project and takes place on the last Saturday of September. Each year attendees are treated to major headlining acts from the past and the modern airwaves.

Concertgoers earn tickets by taking action on the Global Citizen website. Some actions include signing petitions, sending emails, tweeting, posting on Instagram, taking quizzes and making phone calls to politicians. 

The aim is to use social media to drive social change. Various celebrities take part either individually or through partnerships with their own foundations and charity organizations. 

Notably, Chris Martin, lead singer of Coldplay has dedicated a significant amount of time to this cause and also helps curate the lineup each year. Each group that performs is not only incredibly talented but is also giving back in some way to the community. 

Global Citizen Festival 2016 marked the 5th year of the event being held in Central Park. In early September they hosted a charity concert in Canada and next up on their agenda is the expansion of the festival to India! 


See Highlights from Lissie at Bowery Ballroom Courtesy of Global Citizen!


Social Impact

I could go on a bit more about Rihanna, which I will soon, but the main focus of this event is charity. Below is a list of things that were made possible by the 1.3 million actions that Global Citizens made possible this year. 

  • Netherlands committed $350 million over 3 years to improve sanitation for 50 million people and water for 30 million people by 2030.
  • Wal-Mart, USPS, and Johnson and Johnson committed to purchase $100 million in products and services from women-owned businesses over the next 3 years.
  • Canada, Denmark, and Australia committed to donating $40 million to various causes.
  • Overall 199 million of the poorest people around the world will be helped by the 1.9 billion dollars that have been secured through this organization.


The Lineup

The Global Citizen Festival 2016 headliners included Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Major Lazer and Metallica. Selena Gomez was originally a part of the Global Citizen Festival 2016 lineup but was replaced by Demi Lovato. Special guests that also performed were Ellie Goulding, Yandel, Becky G, Usher, MØ Yusef / Cat Stevens, Kenyan Boys Choir, Chris Martin and Eddie Vedder.


Past Features

Global Citizen Festival 2015



  • Rihanna is exactly what you expect her to be. She comes off as the ultimate cool girl, incredibly chill, and like that one daring friend who is not afraid to speak her mind, dance on a table or kill a side of curly fries with you. Rihanna commanded the stage, got the crowd going and was able to transition easily from slower gems to faster club bangers! During her set I shouted lyrics, danced, and got my legit LIFE when “BBHMM” came on. Something about that song just makes me get really into it!
  • Kendrick Lamar lives up to all the hype. He’s one of the most talked about young rappers, if not THE most talked about young rapper, in the industry. I appreciate his honest lyrics, his ability to give me something to think about as well as something to bop my head along to. I also love that he’s stood his ground and not felt the need to fit into that tired stereotype of what hip-hop is supposed to sound like.
  • Metallica just made me smile. Even though my music taste is all over the map nowadays deep down I’m a rock n roll girl at heart. Rock was surely my first music love and seeing Metallica live was kind of like a full circle moment. 
  • Kenyan Boys Choir was a surprise hit for me. I don’t think I even realized they would be playing the festival but they were so talented. Their rendition of “Kill Eem With Kindness” by Selena Gomez was an awesome cover and would fit in nicely with the 20 other song covers I featured a couple of weeks back!





  • I blinked and then Usher was gone. I honestly couldn’t tell you if I liked his performance or not because it was that short.
  • Free WiFi. In writing free wifi sounds great but if it doesn’t work then it’s kind of useless. This is a scenario where it didn’t work.
  • This year there were a few changes to the setup of the event that I wasn’t fond of. The stage was lower and the screen behind the artists that previously projected closeups of their performances instead showed graphics. I imagine this looked better for television viewers but it made viewing it live a little more difficult.


Fun Bits:

  • Chris Martin came out to perform after his joint set with Eddie Vedder in order to entertain the crowd while we waited for Rihanna. She was late and he improvised a really funny tune. 
  • Ellie Goulding is always solid. No complaints there. However she played slowed down versions of her hits and I preferred seeing her perform one of my favorite songs ever, “Powerful” during the Major Lazer set.
  • Yusef / Cat Stevens performed “Wild World” live. Such a classic!
  • Major Lazer, who I’ve already seen and Yandel were great to get the festive vibe going. I wasn’t previously aware of the latter but his music was fun and lively.
  • I won’t lie and say I’m a Demi Lovato fan but I do like a handful of her songs. Regardless, everyone knows her voice is super powerful.
  • Priyanka Chopra was really charming. It’s a great year for her and although I don’t watch her hit TV show (Quantico) I’m always thrilled to see a successful woman of color. 





What do you think of Global Citizen Festival 2016? Did you watch it or go?

Share your thoughts below and relive the past few weeks of music with the Yellow Claw Barong Family and Adele!

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